Changing Perspectives: Viewing Documentation from a Different Lens
Dr. Diane Kashin, RECE, shares with us a personal story about changing perspectives and viewing documentation from a different lens now that she delights in her gorgeous grandson, Griffen.
I originally learned about Storypark, an online platform to support storytelling and documentation when I was teaching a course on children and technology in an early childhood education degree program at a local university. I invited a representative from Storypark to present to my students who were born into this digital age to which I am a relative newcomer. I came to the world of social media and new technologies later in life but with a passion for divergent thinking. Technology has supported my ability to think critically and to see the world of early learning from new perspectives.
New technologies and apps can make life so much easier. The challenge is to avoid seeing their use as an easy way out. I am no longer teaching at the university, but I continue to consult and provide workshops for early childhood educators. A key message that I feel important to relay is that teaching and learning in the digital age needs to support creativity and critical thinking. Technology becomes a tool to support professional growth. Documentation should not just be the retelling of a moment in time but a reflective narrative that has depth; that goes below the surface.
Through this process of critical reflection, new ideas emerge that support inquiry, investigation and children’s learning. The problem that I see from my perspective, is that too often the stories shared digitally are objective and matter of fact, telling the viewer what they can already see. Part of the problem might be the experience that so many early childhood educators (myself included) have had in their training when they were taught to take anecdotal observations and were warned explicitly not to be subjective. Whereas, Carlina Rinaldi reminds us that it is impossible to document without interpreting.
Without taking the time to elaborate, explain descriptively and in detail, the documentation is not pedagogical. It is like flipping through the pages of an old-fashioned photo album. If the documentation serves as a method for the teacher to theorize and to test theories about teaching and learning it becomes meaningful and important to future teaching and learning considerations. This is what I have always taught my students. It is how I assessed their work when they created documentation digitally and otherwise.
Did the documentation tell a meaningful story of learning? When we see documentation as storytelling does it change our perspectives? Does it give us a different lens from which to view the documentation? In terms, of changing perspectives I am looking forward to this event with the York Region Nature Collaborative in Ontario, Canada. What can be learned from exploring relationships between the traditional practice of oral storytelling and the current practice of digital documentation? I look forward to this full day of learning on February 15th, 2020 that will focus on these questions in an experiential and informative way.
When I think back to my teaching days, I remember that my students were not always happy with their grades. It is as difficult to teach documentation as it is to learn it. I was very particular about spelling and grammar because as I told my students, documentation does not only make learning visible, it makes teaching visible too.
Looking back, I wonder if I was too hard on my students because now, I see documentation shared via Storypark as a grandmother and I look beyond these issues wearing different lenses. When my son and daughter-in-law were looking for care for my grandson, Griffen I was very involved. They wanted a child care centre that was close to home. I wanted a child care centre that used Storypark! Thankfully, we found one that met both of our expectations.
Now when I read that my grandson and his peers, “enjoy collecting leaves in autumn”, I hold back critical reflection because I recognize that the practice of documentation places teachers on a learning curve. I can look beyond what seems obvious to me, to see the faces of the children as they experience learning on the Land. I appreciate the words of Griffen’s teacher as she relates that this experience encouraged the children “to connect to nature and develop a sense of awareness of their surroundings”. This is deep and meaningful.
But oh my, isn’t Griffen so adorable? I am now wearing grandma’s glasses! I am comfortable, seeing documentation through the lens of Griffen’s grandma. I look forward with excitement for the next learning story about Griffen as much as I look forward to broadening my professional perspectives about the complex process of pedagogical documentation.
Dr. Diane Kashin is a registered early childhood educator in the province of Ontario, Canada. She has taught early childhood education at both the degree and the diploma level for over thirty years. Diane’s doctoral thesis on emergent curriculum was published in 2009. Diane has also co-written three textbooks with Beverlie Dietze; Playing and Learning in Early Childhood Education 2nd edition (2018), Outdoor and Nature Play in Early Childhood Education (2018) and Empowering Pedagogy in Early Childhood Education (2016). Diane’s areas of interest include forest and nature schools, risky play, loose parts, Reggio inspired practice, outdoor play and emergent curriculum. Diane writes a blog to support professional learning in early childhood education and loves to engage in continuous professional learning face to face and through social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Diane presents workshops and keynote addresses in Ontario, across Canada and internationally.
Diane’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/DianeKashin1
Diane’s Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Tecribresearch/?ref=bookmarks
Diane Kashin on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/dianekashin1/
Diane’s website: https://tecribresearch.wordpress.com/
Diane’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/diane-kashin-a6090151/
York Region Nature Collaborative https://www.yrnature.ca/
York Region Nature Collaborative Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/YRNature/
York Region Nature Collaborative Twitter https://twitter.com/YRNature